The immune system has gotten some serious attention in the media the last few years. COVID certainly played a major role in increasing awareness on what we can do as individuals and inside our families to boost our immune systems. After all, a healthy immune system helps us to avoid illness or fight it off more effectively when we inevitably get sick.
But COVID isn’t the only reason we should do what we can to keep our immune systems at peak performance. We are coming into cold and flu season, kids have gone back to school and will bring back viruses to spread to unsuspecting family members, and as the world gets back to a new normal, we are more exposed and vulnerable as a result of being around more people after so much time being fairly insulated inside our homes.
And illness isn’t the only reason we want a strong immune system, either. When our immune systems are healthy, we reap many rewards that impact our lives in positive ways.
Benefits of Having a Strong Immune System include
fewer infections from pathogens like bacteria and viruses
ability to bounce back more quickly after illness
faster healing of wounds
helps maintain ideal body weight
lowers blood pressure
decreased risk of disease, including cardiovascular disease
One of the ways you can strengthen your immune system and enjoy these many benefits and more is by practicing Pilates regularly.
5 Ways Pilates/Yoga/Movement/Barre Boosts Your Immune System
If you are a member of our community then you already know that practicing Pilates makes you feel soooooo good. But turns out, it also has a positive impact on your immune system! Here’s how.
1. Lymphatic Drainage. Every cell in our bodies produces waste and that waste is carried by lymphatic fluid to the lymph nodes, where it is expelled from the body. Lymph fluid is moved around the body via breathing, the movement of intestinal fluid, and muscle movement. Pilates is especially well suited to moving this fluid around because the practice activates a multitude of muscle groups and joints. And that is good for emptying the lymph nodes because many of them are found in our joints.
2. Stress Reduction = Decreased Inflammation = Improved Immune System
Having a regular movement practice like Pilates/Yoga/Barre reduces stress. The impact that physical exercise has on stress is well documented, researched, and understood. The impact is especially dramatic when the mind-body connection is a component to the practice, such as it is in Pilates/Yoga/Barre. When we reduce stress, we decrease inflammation in our bodies. This directly improves the function of our immune system. Also, reducing inflammation reduces our risk of disease.
3. Stimulates the Gut, Where 80% of the Immune System Resides
Our “gut” consists of the intestines and the pathways that lead to it and away from it, starting from the mouth and going all the way to our bottom. It’s the digestive system and we all know that it plays a powerful role in how we feel and on our health. This is partially due to the fact that 80% of our immune system resides within the biome that is our digestive tract.
And what surrounds that digestive tract? The muscles that make up our core. Pilates/Yoga/Barre calls on our core (and NOT just our abs…the entire core!) to be involved in every posture. In turn, this delivers blood flow and stimulation to the very place where the mass majority of our immune system lives. What’s good for the gut is good for the immune system!
4. Nasal Breathing Boosts Immunity and Fights Infection
When practicing Pilates/Yoga/Barre, deep, intentional breathing is as important as any of the physical postures. Research has shown that nasal breathing boosts immunity and helps fight infection, too. The nose itself acts as a filter of sorts. It stops some pathogens from fully entering the body as it warms and humidifies the air you inhale. Also, deep nasal breathing delivers an increased load of optimally-oxygenized air to the entire body.
5. High Quality Sleep is Essential to a Healthy Immune System
Having a regular movement practice like Pilates/Yoga/Barre leads to higher-quality sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, “Sleep provides essential support to the immune system. Getting sufficient hours of high-quality sleep enables a well-balanced immune defense that features strong innate and adaptive immunity, efficient response to vaccines, and less severe allergic reactions.”
Regular and consistent movement, especially when led by a qualified instructor, is a proven way to improve the wellbeing of your immune system so you can get sick less often and get well quickly when you fall ill. Check out our fresh fall schedule here, www.love-pilates.com/schedule for sessions that will have you feeling your absolute best.